Headlight bulbs

30th March 2013

I think the standard halogen headlights fitted to the Mk 5 Golf are not too bad but they could be better. The separate high beams are excellent but I would prefer the dipped beams to light up more of the road ahead than the approximately 100 feet I seem to get. Maybe one day I'll get to see what a difference Xenon headlights make but until then I'm stuck with the standard halogens.

ABD New Xenon Extreme White Quartz bulbs

The pair of bulbs originally fitted to my car lasted nearly 2 years and covered just over 55,500 miles. When one of them blew I decided to try non-OEM replacements. After doing a little internet research and not liking the yellowish tint of some bulbs, I decided to buy a pair of ABD New Xenon Extreme White Quartz bulbs from Autobulbs Direct for £14. They had received good reviews. However, once fitted I realised that their brilliant white colour came at the expense of brightness. Within a month and just over 2,000 miles later, I swapped them out.

I decided to replace them with another set of genuine OEM replacements from my local VW dealer. I was pleasantly surprised by their cost. No exorbitant mark-up; A new pair cost just £15. They were just as bright as the original VW pair and they ended up lasting over 6 and a half years and covered just short of 82,000 miles! I couldn't argue with that. However, rather than pick up my 3rd pair of VW's OEM originals I again found myself doing a little more research on the internet to see what other people were raving about.

Philips X-tremeVision bulbs

Philips X-tremeVision bulbs appeared to be a popular choice and I read that their standard H7 55W bulbs produced 100% more light than standard bulbs because of a special coating on the inside of the bulb. So I went ahead and ordered a pair for £21.Once fitted they looked fine but I have to admit to being a little disappointed. They were brighter, although I doubt 100% brighter, and the extra light wasn't where I wanted it. Rather than extending my car's dipped headlight's reach they just illuminated the same area as before but brighter!

Philips X-tremeVision bulb specs
Click on photo to enlarge.

Maybe that's a sign that it is not the bulb's fault but rather the design of the headlights. Last year I did spend a very productive half hour cleaning the surface of the headlights and this immediately made them look much nicer but it didn't improve the headlights' performance much either.

Finally, looking at the back of the packaging of the Philips X-tremeVision bulbs I discovered that you don't get anything for nothing and the trade-off for them producing 100% more light is that they don't have as long an expected life span as standard bulbs. It looks like they are only expected to last about 500 hours! That doesn't sound very long at all and so when one does blow, I plan to go pick up that 3rd set of VW OEM replacements.

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